When David slays Goliath
A Singaporean wine writer, Curtis Marsh, the other day reported on a blind wine tasting whose results will knock your sox off.
Or maybe not. I have to confess my initial reaction was to be stunned, but then, the more I thought about it, the more my position shifted to, “Well, why not? It could happen to anyone.”
For the tasting, they had five flights. Each flight consisted of two wines: a super-famous, expensive French “Goliath,” and a far less expensive “David,” made in the same style as the French superstar.
Here are the flights and the wines (All prices are Singaporean currency.)
2006 Neudorf Moutere Chardonnay from Nelson, New Zealand ($65) vs. 2006 Domaine Leflaive Puligny Montrachet Les Pucelles Premier Cru ($240)
2006 Felton Road Block 3 Pinot Noir from Central Otago ($100) vs. Domaine Meo Camuzet Clos de Vougeot Grand Cru from Burgundy ($390)
2004 Fontodi Vigna del Sorbe Chianti Classico from Tuscany ($95) vs. 2004 Chateau Mouton Rothschild ($560)
2006 Rolf Binder Heinrich Shiraz-Mourvedre-Grenache from the Barossa Valley, Australia ($35) vs. 2006 Pierre Usseglio Chateauneuf du Pape Mon Aieul ($148)
2004 Tschida Chardonnay Trockenbeerenauslese from Burgenland, Austria (half bottle $59) vs. 2004 Chateau d’Yquem Sauternes ($388)
You know where this is going. “[W]ith a clean sweep in every bracket, ‘David’, was indisputably victorious on this occasion and compelling evidence that without the prejudice of knowing the label, status or rarity of the wine, the correlation between price and tangible quality or perceived enjoyment is highly debatable,” Marsh wrote.
You want to know who the judges were? Marsh described them as “20 participants…none of whom are wine professionals but a broad representation of nationalities and all well-traveled, relatively wine savvy, open-minded-palates…” So no wine critics, but what makes anyone think 20 wine critics, or even 20 MWs, might not have arrived at the same conclusion?
The reason I was initially stunned was because I could see David upsetting Goliath in 2 or 3 of the flights, but all five? Come on. These are some of the most famous, desirable wines in the world, routinely scoring gigantic Parker points. (By the way, I wonder how Parker would have fared had he participated in the Singapore tasting. Not that we’ll ever know.)
Well, like I said, it could happen to anyone. And if you don’t believe that, try a tasting like this on your own.
In the Biblical story of David and Goliath (1 Samuel, chap. 17), David kills Goliath with a stone from a slingshot, then decapitates him with Goliath’s own sword. That happened in the Valley of Elah, which today is a center of Israeli viticulture. In this modern-day saga of David vs. Goliath, the fatal blow was delivered in Singapore, and it was not a sword or a stone that felled the giant, but 20 palates, all in agreement.
P.S. The 2011 Wine Bloggers Conference will be in Charlottesville, Virginia, next July. I had voted for Paso Robles, but that’s democracy for you. The Virginia Governor himself, Bob McDonnell, announced it. That’s proof of how far and how fast the conference has come, in just three years. Congratulations to Alan Wright, Reno Walsh and the other organizers and, obviously, to Tom Wark for starting this phenomenon.